The four panelists were collegial but wildly different. Soft-spoken professional cook Anthony Myint of Mission Burger and Mission Street Food was serious about making charitable donations (in his case, to organizations fighting hunger) part of the business plan. Gobba Gobba Hey's Steven Gdula, who turned to baking gobs when the recession made his freelance food writing career difficult, started baking a dozen pastries at a time in his home oven and has transitioned to being able to turn out six dozen in eight minutes in a commercial kitchen.
Gdula was overcome by emotion when talking of the plight of likely deportee Murat Celebi-Ariner of Amuse Bouche, who was the first fellow street-food seller to be supportive of him. When a jar of Boozely's pickled green beans was handed up to him, Gdula promptly sent it around the auditorium for an impromptu tasting. Brian Kimball (Magic Curry Kart), whose first cart was a Burning Man relic, recommended blogging, Facebook, and most especially Twitter to guarantee crowds. Ironically, Phan originally intended to sell his Vietnamese food from a truck in Oakland, and ended up four-walling it on Valencia when everything from permits and licensing to proper truck design proved too difficult to surmount.At 111 Minna, the 50 to 100 samples most vendors had brought quickly ran out, but attendees were happy to fork over cash for $4 pear-ginger or corn and black bean pies from Bike Basket Pies, Sweet Constructions' assorted baked goods, and $5 empanadas from Chile Lindo, which was not part of the announced lineup but cleverly showed up partway through the evening with a full tray that was quickly denuded. Lines were longest at the Mission Street Food table, which had the most ambitious offerings. Besides a caramelized Brussels sprout, egg salad, and chicharron canapé, there were pork belly skewers with fry-bread, coriander, and watermelon ($5); fresh mozzarella lettuce wraps with Spanish chorizo, garlic peanuts, and cilantro ($5); and butter-fried cornbread with buttermilk panna cotta and sage honey ($4).
Soul Cocina's crunchy Indian snacks were also popular. And Smitten was handing out free spoonfuls of yummy salted caramel ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce from a Rube Goldberg freezer until the last stragglers exited the hall.